Mumbai: Amid protests against the metro 3 car shed at Aarey Milk Colony, a group of children has urged Yuva Sena president Aaditya Thackeray to save the city’s “last green lung”.
These kids had also featured in a video in March this year, requesting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to save Aarey, which went viral on social media. The kids also submitted a report prepared by a NGO on flora and fauna that was acknowledged by Aaditya.
Five-year-old Arjun Mehta and his friends, Siddhant and Saisha, met Aaditya at Matoshree to urge him to save the Aarey forest. These children have been involved in the fight to save Aarey and its wildlife since 2016. Arjun, two-and-a-half years’ old at the time, had requested chief minister Devendra Fadnavis to save Aarey through a video.
The Yuva Sena president heard the kids for an hour at Matoshree. While encouraging the kids, he said, “Your video to the PM was very cute and I am happy that you also want to save the Aarey forest. I am also with you to save our Aarey forest.”
Arjun replied saying that the PM knew about leopards and the names of all the animals who lived in Aarey. “He promised us that he will save our forests and the homes of all animals, birds and snakes,” said Arjun.
Saisha’s father, Riddhish Kothari, said, “Aaditya compared the US, where one finds Pumas, with Mumbai where one finds leopards and the fact that we need to conserve them and the trees. He also mentioned about other options available for the metro car shed and assured us that Aarey will be notified as a forest.”
Meanwhile, the report prepared by NGO Empower Foundation stated that there are around 9 leopards in Aarey, of which, five have been named under the “Red list” of the International Union for Conservation of Forest (IUCN).
There are 290 species of wildlife at Aarey including leopard, Sambar deer, Rusty Spotted cat, and Alexandrine Parakeet. “Recently, the Tree Authority approved removal of 2,702 trees. We have put forth our concerns to Aaditya, seeking to stop the destruction,” said Jalpesh Mehtaof Empower Foundation.